TUCSON - In the weeks and days before the shooting rampage in Tucson, suspect Jared Lee Loughner surfed the Internet on his computer in what investigators believe was an effort to prepare for his alleged assassination attempt, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said.
Loughner pulled up several Web sites about lethal injections and solitary confinement in prison, said the sources, who asked to be anonymous because the investigation is ongoing. He also viewed Internet sites about political assassins, according to an analysis of Loughner's computer that was completed by investigators last week, the sources said.
Police seized Loughner's computer when they forcibly entered his family home in Tucson on Jan. 8, shortly after the shooting outside a Safeway that killed six people and injured 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
On the night before the shooting, Loughner rented a room at a Motel 6 near the railroad tracks on the western edge of Tucson. Using the room as a staging ground for a series of pre-dawn errands, Loughner drove back and forth several times between the motel and his home, where he used his computer for the last time, sources said. At one point early in the morning, he posted a bulletin on his Myspace page titled "Goodbye friends," according to investigators.
Prosecutors hope to use the information they have found on Loughner's computer, along with notes seized in his home, to indicate that Loughner, 22, was not insane and knew right from wrong. They have turned over to the defense the information they obtained from the computer, as well as discs containing about 250 interviews conducted by investigators.
"The impression investigators have is that he was trying to educate himself on assassinations and also research the consequences," said one source close to the investigation. The source said Loughner pulled up sites that explained the process and effects of lethal injections.
Special Agent Jason Pack, a spokesman for the FBI, would not comment on the information in Loughner's computer, which is in the possession of the FBI. Jason Ogan, spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff's Office, would also not comment and said the sheriff would make no further comments on the investigation.
Loughner was arraigned in a federal courthouse in Phoenix on Monday. Judy Clarke, Loughner's defense attorney from California, asked the court to enter a not-guilty plea on his behalf on three counts of attempting to kill federal employees, including Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head and was moved Wednesday from Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston to the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at Memorial Hermann.
Loughner was also indicted on charges of attempting to assassinate two of Giffords's aides, Ron Barber and Pam Simon, who were injured in the attack. Two other federal employees, U.S. District Judge John M. Roll and another Giffords aide, Gabe Zimmerman, were killed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace H. Kleindienst indicated in court that more charges are expected.
Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Larry Burns of California, who is presiding over the case, that they will try to have all of the federal charges filed within 45 days, including the two murder charges. Loughner also is likely to face a raft of state charges in the shootings of the other non-federal employees who were killed and injured.
If convicted, Loughner could face the death penalty. The next hearing in the case is set for March 9 in Tucson.
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